What you need to know before you come to Camosun
Victoria, the capital city in the province of BC, is a small, safe city located on Vancouver Island off the west coast of Canada. We have approximately 350,000 inhabitants. Camosun college consists of two large campuses that offer all the services you will need as a student at Camosun. Having applied and received your Letter of Acceptance, this guide will help you get ready to study at Camosun and travel to Victoria, B.C.
Welcome to Camosun!
Apply for a Study Permit
To study in Canada you need a study permit. For information on how to apply for a study permit please contact the closest Canadian Embassy or Consulate. You will need your Letter of Acceptance from Camosun and other required documents. Immigration, Refugee, and Citizenship Canada (IRRC) will help you get a study permit.
- Apply early to get your study permit on time: it can take several weeks, or even months, for your documents to be processed.
- It is your responsibility to keep your information with IRRC up-to-date.
You must have a valid study permit to study in Canada.
New rules that take effect on June 1, 2014 make it easier for study permit holders to work off campus. Full-time students pursuing an academic, professional or vocational training programs (not ESL) are:
- eligible to work off campus without a work permit;
- allowed to work off campus for up to 20 hours per week during a regular academic session and full time during regularly scheduled breaks; and
- able to work off campus immediately rather than waiting six months.
Do you already live in Victoria?
Please make sure your study permit is up-to-date and that IRRC has been informed you plan on studying at Camosun.
All new students should register to attend our on-campus Camosun New International Student Orientation.
You should decide where you want to live before you arrive in Canada.
Great value for your money
Camosun has a Homestay program organized specifically for our students. Space is limited so please apply early, we accept students on a first come, first serve basis into the program. You will not be charged over and above the $800/month for your accommodations and all your meals.
Compare the costs
If you would like to arrange your own accommodation you should take the following cost comparison information into consideration.
With all of your meals being provided for, and including the $225 application fee, we estimate that with personal and entertainment items you should be expecting to pay approximately $1,028 Canadian dollars per month.
When renting a shared accommodation
these are your estimated costs:
- Rent and utilities (hot water, electricity and heat) $600/month - with roommates.
- Food/groceries $250/month (not including eating out)
- Personal/Health products and entertainment : $220
Living in with roommates will cost at least *$1,060 Canadian dollars per month.
For more information, see our private accommodation housing information guide.
*Information from Moderate Standard of Living Guidelines, Ministry of Advanced Education and the University of Victoria
The unit of currency in Canada is the Canadian dollar. There are coins for ¢5, ¢10, ¢25, $1 and $2. Paper notes come in $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100. Learn more.
What to bring
We suggest bringing travellers cheques, and a credit card.
- Do not carry large amounts of cash with you in Canada but bring some Canadian dollars for when you arrive.
- Tuition fees may be paid with VISA, Mastercard, American Express, JCB International, bank card or a bank draft or through wire transfer.
- Camosun College is not able to provide any financial assistance to international students. Please be sure that you have enough money to cover your time in Canada.
Opening a Bank Account
When you arrive in Canada, you should open a Bank account at a Canadian Bank. Banks are normally open from 9am-4pm, Monday to Friday; some large banks may be open on Saturdays. Services they offer include: currency exchange (without membership), creating deposit and savings accounts, international wire transfers, loans and credit cards.
It is important to shop around to find the bank that best suits your needs. When you decide, visit the local branch you would like to open an account at and bring your passport, study permit, letter of acceptance or attendance letter from current institution.
There are seven main banks in Victoria, listed on the side of this page.
When should you come?
Please review the important dates calendar to plan your trip to Victoria based on your program start date.
Need an English Placement Test?
For students without the required English level, there is an ESL Assessment on Wednesday during New International Student Orientation (one week before the start of school). The test will help you identify your starting point for your studies at Camosun. If you have any questions, please contact International Admissions for details.
For students with the required English level
If you haven't already, contact a student advisor and register in your class selection.
You must arrive in time to attend the on-campus New International Student Orientation.
Important Travelling Reminders
- When you go through customs in Canada tell the immigration officer that you are coming to Canada to study. Show them the letter you received from the Canadian Embassy or High Commission confirming that your application for a study permit has been accepted. You will receive your study permit at the board crossing customs booth.
- Homestay students should notify the Homestay Coordinator of your arrival date at least two weeks before you leave your home country, so your homestay host family can meet you at the airport.
How to get into town
Arriving at the Victoria Airport (YYJ)
Homestay students will be picked up at the airport by their host family.
Other students may wish to take a taxi ($35-65 or more), shuttle bus ($14-16) or public transit ($2.50 exact change needed).
Victoria has it's own public transit system. When you arrive at Camosun you can go to the library and get your student card, this will act as your bus pass (UPASS), library and student card. You can ride the bus for free by swiping this card.
Arriving at the Vancouver Airport (YVR)
We recommend bringing clothing that you can layer and a variety for all seasons. You will find that the spring and fall can be quite unpredictable - you may need a sun hat and umbrella on the same day. The average temperature in Victoria from winter to summer ranges from 7°C-27°C. That being said, some years it does snow, so please bring a warm winter jacket or be prepared to purchase one here.
People in Victoria are active and enjoy the outdoors. We tend to dress fairly casually on a daily basis.
Packing your luggage
Only small bottles of soap, shampoo, toothpaste and other toiletries need to be packed as they can be easily purchased once you arrive.
For your protection, we recommend that you write down all of the serial numbers for your electronic devices (cameras, laptop, cell phones, etc.) and their estimated value, keep this list with you while travelling.
Electricity in Canada is 120 Volts (V), alternating currency (AC). We have 2-prong plus, with the option of a third prong for grounding. You may need to buy plus adaptors for your electronic devices, also transformers can be purchased.
At customs you can bring all of your personal items into Canada for free. The Canadian Boarder Services Agency has information on which goods you can bring across the boarder and a list of alcohol and tobacco limits.
Six weeks before you arrive
- If you haven't already applied for the Homestay program, please submit your application now.
Four weeks before you arrive
- Have you received your confirmation for your study permit from the immigration and arranged your travel to Victoria? Contact International Admissions to confirm and also to arrange for your GuardMe medical insurance prior to leaving your home country. The cost is $2/day and you will need it for your first three months in Canada.
- Plan to transfer your money to Victoria, but be sure to carry some money with you.
Two weeks before you arrive
- Homestay students: you must notify the Housing Coordinator of your arrival date at least two weeks before you plan to arrive, so your homestay family can arrange to meet you at the airport. The phone number of the Homestay office is +1-250-370-3685, fax +1-250-370-4592 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please ensure you have all the necessary documents listed below. Please print this list and bring it with you for your records.
- The letter you received from the Canadian Embassy or High Commission that shows you are approved for a Study Permit.
- Valid passport and official government-issues identification
Your passport should have at least six months remaining after the end date of you study permit.
- Camosun official Letter of Acceptance
- Transcripts/course descriptions from schools previously attended
- Proof of your TOEFL or IELTS scores, if needed
- Medical and immunization records (useful, but not required)
- Eye examination records and prescriptions and obtain any corrective lenses
- Have a dental examination and complete any necessary dental work
- Credit card(s)
- Marriage licence (if you are married)
- Driver's licence or international driver's licence and a notarized translation of your licence if it is not in English.